Steve Ball begins new job as OGHA president

Tom Pechloff
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Steve Ball’s first official day on the job as the new president of the Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association was Tuesday – Canada Day.

Steve Ball, President Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association

“You know you’ve got a great career when your first day is a national holiday and you don’t have to come to work,” he laughed. “It doesn’t get any better than that!”

But make no mistake. It’s not as if Mr. Ball is easing into his new role.

For the past month, he has served as OGHA president designate while outgoing president Dick Brown showed him the ropes.

Mr. Brown officially retired Monday, leaving a hole Mr. Ball said he hopes to fill.

“If I had a dollar for everybody that said I had big shoes to fill,” he said, “we wouldn’t need a destination marketing fee to fund tourism.”

That fee is the brainchild of Mr. Brown. It sees local hotels give three per cent of their room rates to Ottawa Tourism.

Mr. Ball is no stranger to Ottawa Tourism or the OGHA, for that matter.

“It’s like coming home,” he said.

As the former publisher of Where magazine, he worked closely with the association, playing a role when the group hired Mr. Brown 13 years ago.

“I paid an access fee for Where magazine to be in the hotel rooms, which helped fund the startup of that organization, and I was thrilled to do so because Dick Brown has been a real solid leader,” said Mr. Ball.

Mr. Ball also sat on the Ottawa Tourism Board for 14 years, serving as treasurer for the last two, before leaving in 2006 for a vice-president position with the Canadian Medical Association.

Ottawa Tourism is in a much better place today than back then, he said, adding Mr. Brown and his destination marketing fee deserve much of the credit.

Mr. Ball said the OGHA is also in good shape, so his main task right now is simply getting to know members of the association.

“Being a new kid on the block … I want to meet all the members just to hear about what their thoughts are around the industry and around the OGHA and try to engage them more actively in the ongoing efforts of the organization,” he said.

He said he also wants to continue the good relationships Mr. Brown had with the Ottawa Convention Centre and the municipal and provincial governments.

There is always a chance the destination marketing fee could be absorbed into a municipal or provincial levy, which he said could be good or bad depending on how it’s structured.

“We need to be at the table to ensure that, should governments want to play a role in this area, that it’s aligned with what the organization, the hoteliers are thinking,” he said.

Mr. Ball also said he would continue to work closely with Ottawa Tourism to make sure the organization’s voice is heard on issues such as sales and marketing and increasing overnight visits.

Organizations: Ottawa Tourism Board, Where magazine, Canadian Medical Association Ottawa Convention Centre

Geographic location: Ottawa

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